Obama in Cairo

Quick thought: This was remarkable for many reasons. It was the first speech of Obama’s that I’ve heard that almost seemed to live up to its advance billing. He took some real risks. The Israeli government and its acolytes in the American Republican party and among the American Christian far-right will go bananas about his call to end settlements, the President’s use of the word “Palestine” and his statement that life in the occupied territories is “intolerable”. I say, ‘Well done Barack!’, but let’s see if your administration is really prepared to back up your words with action.

A few concerns:

  • Obama’s tone presumes American primacy in the world: a stature which is questionable at this point in the twenty-first century.
  • The talk of avoiding a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is largely nonsense. There already is one. Israel has nuclear weapons. It’s refreshing that Obama acknowledged the double standard at work, but he could urge Israel to admit what the world already knows: it possesses the bomb.
  • I admired Obama’s inclusion of agnostics in his inauguration address. This speech and others since seems to assume a shared religiosity among peoples of the world. It always creeps me out when politicians of supposedly secular, democratic states invoke “God” as if she/he’s on their side.C